Wilf Wikkerink and the Rise of Book Depot

Wilf Wikkerink, the CEO of Book Depot, one of North America’s leading book wholesalers, embodies the essence of entrepreneurship and servant leadership. His tenure at Book Depot is marked by a hands-on approach to problem-solving and a steadfast dedication to nurturing the growth and development of his team. Under his leadership, Book Depot has not only expanded its market presence but also cultivated a culture of continuous improvement and innovation.

“I joined the company in 2005, and since then, I’ve been dedicated to sharing Book Depot’s vision with our employees, customers, and suppliers,” Wikkerink shared. “Building strong, lasting relationships is important to me, both locally and abroad. I enjoy the challenges and rewards of growing our business, whether through organic growth or acquisitions. At Book Depot, we focus on bringing together the right people and investing in technology and automation to continuously improve our operations.”

Wikkerink’s story begins on a Vancouver Island family dairy farm, where he was raised by Dutch immigrant parents. This upbringing instilled in him a strong work ethic and the importance of building lasting relationships – values that would shape his future in business.

After high school, Wikkerink attended Dordt University in Iowa, earning his Bachelor of Business Administration, laying the groundwork for his entrepreneurial endeavors.

Wilf and his wife, Natalie, have six children—two boys and four girls—and they are also blessed with grandchildren. The family enjoys spending time outdoors, skiing, playing Spikeball, and reading books together.

Wilf Wikkerink’s Entrepreneurial Ventures and Lessons Learned

Before joining Book Depot in 2005, WIlf Wikkerink spent nine years as a Partner and Operations Director at Legacy Entertainment, a role that allowed him to hone his business management skills.

“My business partner and I built a successful budget music company, which we eventually sold to a UK-based company,” Wikkerink explained. “This experience taught me valuable lessons in entrepreneurship and business management.”

These lessons would prove invaluable as Wikkerink transitioned to his next chapter at Book Depot, a company he has led as CEO for 15 years.

Wilf Wikkerink’s Vision for Book Depot

When Wikkerink joined Book Depot, the company had been in the wholesale bargain book business for over 20 years. He focused on sharing the company’s vision, building strong relationships, and driving growth through strategic acquisitions and operational improvements.

“At Book Depot, we understand that what doesn’t break you can make you stronger,” Wikkerink shared. “Our journey towards becoming Canada’s Best Managed Company has been defined by our unwavering commitment to excellence and continuous improvement.”

Book Depot’s Investment in the Customer Experience

Book Depot has spent millions of dollars improving the customer experience for countless years. The company has a 500,000-square-foot production facility that uses advanced automated technology to fulfill orders.

Book Depot continually upgrades its website to improve the customer experience. Several years ago, the company completely redesigned its website to work well on any device, ensuring all customers have a smooth shopping experience online. “If you haven’t been on our website in the last three years, please take a look,” Wikkerink encourages. “I know you’ll be impressed with what you see and the ease with which you can shop for bargain books from the convenience of your office, home, or on the go.”

In addition to the investments in technology and infrastructure, Book Depot has also focused on enhancing its sales and customer service teams. “Today, our sales team has a combined experience in the book industry of over 80 years, and along with that comes a wealth of product knowledge,” Wikkerink shared. “Whether you prefer to shop online or over the phone, our sales team is ready to assist you and tailor a list of products to meet your specific needs.”

The company has also improved its customer service department, adding new team members and providing them with the training needed to deliver excellent support to Book Depot’s customers. “We have continued investing in the sales team by launching Salesforce. This will give our salespeople additional tools to grow and maintain excellent customer relations.” Wikkerink explains.

Wikkerink’s Zeal to Embrace Challenges and Drive Innovation at Book Depot

Wikkerink’s entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to take on challenges have been crucial to Book Depot’s success. While listening to the “How I Built This” podcast with Guy Raz, Wikkerink once heard an entrepreneur say, “When someone tells me that is the craziest idea I’ve heard of, then I know I’m on to something!”

“That really resonated with me as many times in our business, we have sailed into uncharted waters and done things that others said could not be done,” Wikkerink explains. “Are we always successful? No, but you cannot continue to build a business without some bumps and bruises along the way – and those bruises usually make you stronger.”

Whether navigating industry changes, taking on ambitious automation projects, or exploring new market opportunities, Wikkerink and his team have consistently demonstrated their ability to adapt and thrive.

Cultivating a Winning Culture Through Servant Leadership

Ensuring employees feel valued and creating an environment that welcomes new ideas from everyone has been one of Wikkerink’s main goals at Book Depot. The company’s employees enjoy exceptional perks, including learning and career development opportunities through the company’s own Book Depot University (BDU).

Book Depot’s culture is not just about business, it’s about family. Wilf Wikkerink’s commitment to creating an environment that values every employee and welcomes new ideas has fostered a sense of belonging among our team. This dedication to nurturing a winning culture has struck a chord with Book Depot’s employees, who often describe the company as a ‘family atmosphere.’

Wilf Wikkerink’s Faith and Stance for Book Depot’s Future

Though the book industry has changed significantly, book lovers still value holding a printed book. As e-book sales have dropped and independent bookstores have made a comeback, Wikkerink believes bargain books are a big opportunity for bookstore owners.

“There is continued good news in the industry about printed book sales being up, the decline of e-book sales, and the overall positive outlook by independent booksellers,” Wikkerink shares. “We are hearing encouraging reports from many of our customers that business is growing, and their customers are delighted to have a local bookstore where they can browse, shop, and generally spend a few hours ‘hanging out.’”

Wikkerink’s faith and trust in the enduring appeal of physical books, his strategic vision, and his commitment to building a winning culture position Book Depot for continued success in the years to come. By investing in employees, technology, and operational excellence, Wikkerink ensures Book Depot remains a leader in the book industry.

“We are confident in the future of books and the book industry, but ultimately, our trust and faith lie not in the things we possess, but in our Heavenly Father who guides and directs us,” Wikkerink concluded.

Wilf Wikkerink’s journey from a dairy farm to the CEO of Book Depot proves the power of entrepreneurship, servant leadership, and a relentless pursuit of innovation. As he continues to guide the company toward new peaks, his story inspires aspiring business leaders everywhere.

“I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had throughout my life and career,” Wikkerink said. “I look forward to continuing to lead Book Depot, working with our fantastic team, and serving our customers and suppliers to the best of my ability.”